Saturday, January 13, 2007

Transfer window round up: Lauren, Freddie, loanees, Beckham.

Busy times for Goonerboy this week, as the post Christmas malaise of returning to work fully hit home. Hence the lack of posts, which I shall try to rectify this week.

It's been a good week for the club, with our youth system received a stunning vindication in the 6-3 crushing of Liverpool at Anfield. I wasn't able to watch the game, and turned on the BBC website at half-time to find we were 4-1 up. A pleasant surprise I have to say. From accounts I've heard, almost everyone played well - notably Baptista, who is beginning to re-earn his 'Beast' sobriquet, Aliadiere, and (who would have thought it) Alex Song. Liverpool didn't put out a full strength team, but the likes of Gerrard, Garcia, Bellamy, Fowler and Alonso were present so they can hardly say they were understrength in comparison to us. Indeed, it was interesting to note how ineffective Gerrard was, who I think has become a typical English player: arrogant, and unwilling to do the gritty midfield duties, forcing Benitez to play two defensive midfielders next to him as he plays Roy of the Rovers.

Anway, Aliadiere's fantastic performance was surely only a stay of execution regarding his transfer. He stated after the game that he wants to 'stay and fight for his place' but I don' think he's being realistic. We now have four top quality strikers in front of him: Henry, Adeabayor, van Persie and Baptista, with Bendtner and Walcott waiting in the wings. He's not good enough to displace those 6, so, unless he's content with being a peripheral squad player, he should leave.

One man who almost certainly will leave by February is Lauren. A great shame, I feel, as he was usually a rock at right-back, and also physically stood up for the team, something we've missed over the last year. I think Arsene must believe that Ralphy won't ever fully recover from his injury, and, due to his age, selling him now makes sense, albeit in a fairly ruthless way. I'm still not convinced we have another quality in our full back positions, however.

A player who should leave is Freddie, but I think he won't go til the summer, when a move would be better for both player and club. He can't cut it anymore, but unless we get someone of the likes of Ribery in, we need him as cover. Arsene must, however, not see him as a first XI player anymore.

In the Friday press conference, Arsene also confirmed that Larsson would be leaving - a shame, but I don't think he'd make it for us - and that Muamba and Bendtner would return. It'll be interesting to see whether the latter pair get a run in the first team, because they've been very good for Birmingham.

Finally, a word about Beckham. He was, once, a good player, and, from dead balls, he still is. However, like Michael Owen, you get the feeling with Beckham that he was a young player that people thought would become a true great, but instead was merely rather good. It's a shame that he's decided to go to America, because the move, surely, is not about football. To suggest that you can just get in a few big players and change American attitudes towards football - I was appalled he was calling it 'soccer' - is incorrect. American's like american football, american baseball and american basketball. There is, as I know from my blog stats, a sizeable minority who do like football - and I applaud them for their good taste - but bringing over Beckham won't be the start of a societal change of attitudes towards football. I think there's a lot more dignity in seeing out your career as a sub in the Bernabeu, or even as a starter for a lesser premiership club, than playing in a half-empty pitch in a far away country for shed-loads of cash. But being a sub isn't good for brand Beckham - how will he become an even bigger celebrity? The move sums up everything that is wrong with modern football to me.

Half an hour til Blackburn - let's hope we can continue our good run of form.


Anonymous said...

Not bitter he turned down arsenal then?

Anonymous said...

I am an american and football will always be my first love. The highlight of my week is waking up saturday or sunday morning and watching arsenal play (when we get the games). I have no excitement for the beckham move. I might watch the first couple games just to see how good he is or how the MLS now compares to the top leagues in the world. I don't think he will have that big of an impact playing wise. He is a step above the players no doubt, but so much of his game is about service and relies alot on the qualities of the recieving players. He does not have the pace to take over games by himself, even in the american game. It will be interesting to see how different it will be for him to play with players other than the likes of real madrid, machester united, and england internationals. I think the only thing that will really stand out is free kick ability. What truley apalls me is that he is already calling football "soccer." As I said, I am an American and I resent the word "soccer." When talking with other americans who play or love the game we always refer to it as "football." Soccer is a word for the general public that know nothing of the game.

Anonymous said...

As an American, I'm rather glad that Beckham is coming. I don't live in LA, but I live in one city with an MLS team and travel quite often to others. Due to their off schedule, MLS competes with my first love, and anytime there is a conflict the Red Sox will win out. That being said, I will miss a Sox game to see Beckham play--at least the first few times. But we all know that this isn't (just) about ticket sales. He's still a very good player, and his relative success will demonstrate to European teams how strong or week the MLS is. Unfortunately, I don't see the MLS ever competing as long as it goes head to head with baseball, because our most cosmopolitan cities are also our most baseball crazed (Boston, NYC, then Chicago, with LA and SF less rabid but supporting two teams each). On the other hand American Football translates so well to TV that I don't see footie ever usurping it. That being said, perhaps a Saturday and midweek schedule would work as the big coastal cities are much less interested in college football (which is played on Saturday; the NFL plays nearly all its games on Sunday and Monday)

Anonymous said...

Given how Gerrard was at fault with three of the nine goals Liverpool conceded, maybe it is better that he doesn't defend. Almunia was brilliant, faultless for the goals conceded, his handling was superb and he made some world class saves.

Hoyte and Eboue will do the job at right back and are young but I would be said to see Lauren leave, I think he is still needed at right back.

Beckham couldn't do anything right after 2004, no matter how well he performed in Spain or that he was one of our better players at the world cup. He did say he wanted to finish his career in the USA for a long while (years before the Beckham rule) and would only want to play for Man U if he returned to England. He believes he can change perceptions of football, I doubt it but good luck to him.

Anonymous said...

I'm quite glad he's coming to America. Already the LA Galaxy has sold a thousand more season tickets just because of Beckham. I don't really care about the ethics and sums of money involved with the situatation because I don't care about Beckham. Overall, his move will at least generate a little more interest in the best sport in the world in a country that knows the least about it.

Anonymous said...

It's rather provincial to say that going back to England and playing for Bolten-esque teams is a more dignified end for Beckham. He's got a chance (admittedly not a good chance) of making soccer a mainstream sport in America, and making himself a true global icon in the process. Yes, it's a hell of a lot of money (even Ronaldinho would've been tempted by that offer) but I think Beckham's genunine when he says it's the challenge that swayed him. He's probably the only footballer in the world that can generate enough critical mass for soccer to take off in the USA (don't tell me the English tabloids won't be crossing the pond soon).
Anyway, association football is "soccer". There's no need to be snobbish about it (why are we being elitist about a game of working-class origins?). An inflated pigskin by any other name would smell as sweet.

Anonymous said...

you do not know wat your talking about! Beckham is a true ledgand in the game!!